Something about the Second City

When I went to Chicago a couple weeks ago, it was for the first time. I don’t count being at O’Hare or Midway Airports “being in Chicago”.

On Tuesday, September 2, my colleague Amelia and I got a ride to the airport with the library director, Darrin. I think he was going to miss us; moreover, he’ll miss the fact that we won’t going to be doing library reference all week, and with one librarian on vacation that day, and another out sick, our departure left him bereft of his entire staff for the rest of that day.

This is the first time I had flown since the airlines – in this case, United – started charging for luggage. I suppose I could have gotten a couple smaller bags to squeeze on the plane, but I think it just clutters the overhead compartments. The guy checking in in front of me, coincidentally, was named Roger. Waiting for the plane, I see my friend Philip from church and my colleague from Kingston Arnaldo walking together, or so it seemed. Philip was returning from Kentucky while Arnaldo was taking our flight; they just happened to be proximate to each other.

The flight itself was relatively uneventful, though there was a baby on board that was crying. I’d never taken Lydia on a flight, not because of her possible discomfort but because of the possible annoyance it might have on other passengers. Interestingly, the crying child didn’t particular bother me, as it probably would have, say six years ago, as I just wanted to comfort him or her. (I didn’t actually SEE the baby; it was only an audible experience.

Someone else’s subsequent flight, though, would be affected. A passport was found on the floor immediately behind me. Afraid I might have dropped mine, I started to claim it, only to notice that her photo didn’t look anything like me. She had been on the previous flight. I hope she didn’t need it for where she was going that day.

One of those odd things is that many areas around airports look kinda sorta alike. Arnaldo, Amelia and I took a cab to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency, but as we departed, I’m saying, I want some CHICAGO architecture. Soon enough, I see some housing stock that have a particular look. Then, finally, the Chicago skyline.

After we check in, Amelia and I go out for pizza with our colleague Mary. We end up going up storied Michigan Avenue several blocks before turning, on Superior, I believe, to go to Gino’s East, where we have a spinach and cheese deep dish pizza. We should have gotten a small pie, for we had more than we could consume in a medium. Failing that, we should have taken the remainder to go, for on the return walk, we came across a number of people with signs indicating that they were hungry.

The other notable feature of this walk is that we saw a number of buskers. I’m used to seeing the sax player or violinist playing for change, which I saw. But we also came upon, not one but TWO drummers, with full gear, right across the street from each other.

Wednesday, Amelia and I went to the conference room to prepare for our presentation. The guy in the room before us was named Roger, the only other Roger presenting at the conference – I checked – and I thought that was pretty weird. Amelia and I did our presentation on Blogging for Your SBDC, which went well. I did most of the blogging stuff, and she talked mostly about RSS feeds, Twitter and other “Web 2.0” technologies. After lunch, I attended a couple workshops.

Then I decided to tackle Chicago mass transit to get to the Cubs-Astros game. I went up to the brown line rather than going down to the red line, but eventually met up with Gordon. This has already been described here and here.

Thursday, it rained all day. Went to four sessions, about which I’ll describe eventually on my work blog and link here, broken up by the luncheon. That evening, I got into a three-hour conversation with Jim Poole of J.J. Hill Libraries about politics (May 1972 was a pivotal month for both of us; he was for Hillary in 2008; and lots more.)

Friday, I was up early so I took a walk down by the river. I love how this city is at times in several levels, particularly around Wacker Street. I also appreciated how the city provides access to the river, unlike what happened to Albany, where the highway cut off access to the Hudson, although some attempts have been made to lessen the damage. Went to a couple sessions and later got access to a computer so I could print out my boarding pass for the return flight.

For lunch, I was wandering about when I came across the headquarters for the
Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago. The museum itself museum was seven blocks away, but there was a charming restaurant within the HQ building called the Backstage Bistro where one could look in to see them preparing the food. the drink of the day, the BackStage Pass, was cranberry juice, orange juice and Sprite. I’d made that myself, but using ginger ale; does this means I could be a restauranteur?

That evening was the awards banquet. In the tradition of the event, every time the photo of New York’s star performer, Myriam Bouchard, came up, the dozen of us yelled wildly.

Saturday morning, Mary, Amelia and I went to the airport. It occurred to me that I probably could have taken public transportation if necessary, but I wasn’t that bold. The flight back was fine until we got to about Buffalo, when the turbulence caused by Tropic Storm Hanna gave me a wretched earache. My mother-in-law, my wife and my daughter picked me up, and while I had a great time, I was glad to be home.


Roger Green Answers the Proust Questionnnaire

I was listening to a HubSpot free webinar about Blogging for Business, and one of the examples was this. Andrew McAfee is “a professor at Harvard Business school, a top blogger, and the coiner of the term Enterprise 2.0 which is used to describe the application of web2.0 technology (i.e. blogs, wikis, social media, etc) in the business world.”

Device you would never give up?

My DVR. I watch television when I want, without actually having to watch commercials, in whatever order I want. With the VCR, I had to find a particular program. I also like recording two shows while watching a third, and pausing live TV. Since I’m sharing it with two others, this is an important consideration.
I’m also very fond of Caller ID. Yes, I screen my calls, often letting unfamiliar numbers go to the answering machine.

Your Favorite Software Application?

iTunes, because I don’t have to do as much work in accessing podcasts I listen to. The music stuff’s OK too, but not my primary usage.

Blog you read most frequently?

Probably News from ME by Mark Evanier, if only because he posts often, is only mildly left of center, and finds whack videos , many of which I actually remember.

Social Media Tool you actually use?

LinkedIn. Probably not as often as I should, but I’ve written up a positive review or two and people have reciprocated.

Favorite Business Book(s)?

As a business librarian, I suppose I ought to have one, but most of what we do isn’t business philosophy, it’s finding facts. I do recall enjoying Nuts! Southwest Airlines’ Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg.

Favorite Newspaper(s)?

The Wall Street Journal. Aside from its pretty rabidly right editorial pages – no worse under Rupert Murdock than the previous owners – it gives me useful trend information that our clients can use.

Person that inspires you?

I think I’m a big fan of those amazingly creative people like Michelangelo, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson. McAfee picked Jefferson, among others, calling him “another flawed polymath and humanist”.

Who Was Your Best Manager? Why?

At the risk of embarrassing her, my former library boss, Mary Hoffman. She let me know what was expected and mostly left me alone. She was also someone who let me test her, a reaction to her evil predecessor, and her listening to what my issues about that other person were.

Your first “real” job?

I delivered the Binghamton (NY) Press, six evenings plus Sunday morning, for a couple years. I was good at delivering the paper, not so good at dealing with collecting money and I got stiffed more than a few times. But the good customers were generous with their tips. I inherited that job from Walter Jones, my parents’ godson and the grandson of my godparents. I also inherited my library page job from him a few years later.

Where Do You Do Your Best Thinking?

Washing dishes, taking a shower, almost anywhere that doesn’t require thinking, ironically.

What Do You Most Value In Employees/Colleagues?

Varied intelligences, a sense of fair play, a desire to share.

What I’d like To Be The World’s Best At?

It used to be lawyer or baseball player or pastor, but I was never good enough. Librarian, I suppose, however one measure that.
My condolences to friend Fred Hembeck on the demise of another Mets season; I managed to see parts of that last game. What kind of karmic forces are at work where neither NYC team gets into the playoffs the year their stadia are being torn down and replaced?


Roger Answers Your Questions, Demeur

Demeur asks:

Okay I’ll bite. I’m not exactly sure what type of librarian you are (ie school, public or corporate)

Well, let’s deal with that first. I work in what one would call a special library. The New York State Small Business development Center helps people who want to start or expand their business. It is a free service, and there are like programs in every state of the union, plus, DC, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. The NYS SBDC has five librarians that form the Research Network, which find research that SBDC clients ask of their advisors.

but my question. Have you noticed any major changes in the library system in the last eight years?
For us, actually, the biggest issue has been electronic delivery of information. This means copyright issues. We struggle almost weekly with this. You know when you go to the library and copy a page, or indeed, the whole book, the library will have a notice about the rules of copyright, but it is largely the responsibility of the patron. Not so with digital data, particularly since we digitized it by making a PDF. We have to be cognizant of balancing educational use with frequency and spontaneity, plus the possible harm to the copyright holder.

I know the government has been trying to put controls like net filters and accessing computer caches to follow users surfing habits, but have there been any actual laws that you must follow?

Well, no, but I’m not in a public library. Now, I am involved in a public library as Vice-President of the Friends of the Albany Public Library. By and large, APL is not using net filters, to the best of my knowledge. This means that the librarian, who can generally see the computers, at least in the main branch, might theoretically make a determination that something is inappropriate in a public setting, if someone complained; I’ve never seen or heard of it happening. Since APL endorses the principles adopted by the American Library Association in the Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read Statement, it seems that the library goes out of its way not to be the thought police.

What is your attitude about this?
About filtering software, which I think you’re alluding to, the literature I’ve read suggests it generally doesn’t work. It tends to block the word “breast” and miss the articles on breast cancer or “sex” and block out things about gender. Spam blockers I favor, but not subject blockers. Part of the reason that the governor of Alaska worries not only me but other librarians

But the most virulent thing that’s come down in the past eight years is the so-called USA PATRIOT Act, which, among other things, is supposed to allow the government to find out what library patrons have been treading. Libraries have subverted that by deliberately not knowing what their individual patrons are checking out once they’ve returned them. Here are other ways to protect against the ‘knock on the door’.

Interestingly, I can tell you that I’ve never been involved in a PATRIOT Act situation, but if I had, I supposedly could not; there are ways to subvert that too, and I’m in favor.

I don’t know that most librarians are liberals, though I suspect they are. I DO know that most librarians have a libertarian streak in them, thinking that the government, in most cases, ought to butt out.

QUESTION: Baseball Hall of Fame

COOPERSTOWN, NY – Ten former major league players, whose careers began in 1943 or later, will be considered for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009 by the Veterans Committee, with results to be announced December 8 at baseball’s Winter Meetings…

Dick Allen 0/7
Gil Hodges 0/8
Jim Kaat 7/3
Tony Oliva 0/7
Al Oliver 4-/7
Vada Pinson 2-/4*
Ron Santo 4c/9
Luis Tiant 0/3
Joe Torre 5/9
Maury Wills 2/7*
will be considered for election by the Veterans Committee for enshrinement in 2009, with votes to be cast by Hall of Fame members this fall. Any candidate to receive 75% of the vote on all ballots cast will earn election to the Hall of Fame and will be enshrined on July 26, 2009. There are 64 living Hall of Famers.

The ballot for the 2009 Veterans Committee election of players whose careers began in 1943 or later was devised by Hall of Fame members, who served as the Screening Committee in narrowing the list from 21 to 10 names during the month of August. Earlier this year, the Historical Overview Committee of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, comprised of 11 veteran baseball writers and historians, selected 20 finalists from a list of all eligible players, those whose careers spanned at least 10 major league seasons and started in 1943 or later. Concurrently, a screening committee comprised of six Hall of Famers selected five names for the ballot, and the two lists were merged for a total of 21 candidates.

The 21 candidates considered by the Screening Committee: Allen, Ken Boyer, Bert Campaneris, Rocky Colavito, Mike Cuellar, Steve Garvey, Hodges, Kaat, Ted Kluszewski, Mickey Lolich, Roger Maris, Lee May, Minnie Minoso, Thurman Munson, Oliva, Oliver, Pinson, Santo, Tiant, Torre and Wills.

Also in December, a 12-member voting committee will consider the candidacies of 10 former major league players whose careers began in 1942 or earlier:
Bill Dahlen
Wes Ferrell
Joe Gordon
Sherry Magee
Carl Mays
Allie Reynolds
Vern Stephens
Mickey Vernon
Bucky Walters
Deacon White
Any candidate to earn votes of 75% of ballots cast will earn election to the Hall of Fame, with enshrinement on July 26, 2009.

The 12 members of the voting committee who are scheduled to meet on December 7 at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas to consider the pre-1943 candidates include: seven Hall of Fame members (Bobby Doerr, Ralph Kiner, Phil Niekro, Robin Roberts, Duke Snider, Don Sutton and Dick Williams), along with five historians (Furman Bisher, Roland Hemond, Steve Hirdt, Bill Madden and Claire Smith).

The 10 former major leaguers whose careers began in 1942 or earlier were screened by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) appointed Historical Overview Committee, comprised of 11 veteran members: Dave Van Dyck (Chicago Tribune); Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun); Rick Hummel (St. Louis Post-Dispatch); Steve Hirdt (Elias Sports Bureau); Moss Klein (formerly Newark Star-Ledger); Bill Madden (New York Daily News); Ken Nigro, (formerly Baltimore Sun); Jack O’Connell (; Nick Peters (Sacramento Bee); Tracy Ringolsby (Rocky Mountain News); and Mark Whicker (Orange County Register). This committee also served as the Overview Committee for the post-1943 ballot, screening names to 20 from the universe of eligible candidates.

The process to consider players whose careers began in 1942 or earlier occurs every five years, next in 2013 for election in 2014. The committee to consider players whose careers began in 1943 or later will consider candidates every other year, next in 2010 for 2011 election.

The Veterans Committee process also features ballots for Managers/Umpires and for Executives, with both of those committees meeting every other year for even-year election, next meeting in 2009 for election in 2010.

So the obvious question: who should go in, and why?
I went to at least for the younger layers and noted just two things: how many players with similar stats were in the Hall and how many All-Star Games were they selected for. Tiant 0 on the comparison stats and only 3 All-Star appearances – out. Vada Pinson (love that name) 2 HOF, 4 AS but over only two years; there was a period (1959-1962) when thee were two All-Star games played – out. Tony Oliva and Dick Allen, both 0 HOF but 7 AS – tougher call, but no.
Gil Hodges – 0 HOF, but 8 AS, and he won the world series as a manager and died tragically early – maybe. Maury Wills – 2 HOF, 7 AS (but over 5 years), but he transformed the game with his speed – maybe. Al Oliver – 4 HOF (and one on the ballot now, Pinson), 7 AS. One batting title – maybe.
Jim Kaat -7(!)HOF, though only 3 AS. But he fielded his position well (16 Golden Gloves), and contributes to baseball as an announcer, plus longevity – yes. Ron Santo – 4 HOF (oddly, all catchers, though he mostly played 3B), 9 AS. Add his announcing gig, plus the torture of being a Chicago Cub – yes. Joe Torre- 5 HOF, 9 AS, and he was a catcher for much of that time. add his managerial success (OK, not the Mets, but with the Braves, Cards, Yankees – I believe the Dodgers are in 1st place right now) – yes.


The Lydster, Part 54: Party Planning.

Lydia’s fifth birthday isn’t for six months, but Carol and I are already thinking about it. Her fourth birthday was a family event, with her grandparents, two cousins, and uncle and aunt and her parents; all the relatives, BTW, are my wife’s, since mine are so far away. I was lobbying for more, since all of her friends had had an expanded roster of guests. Moreover, some of them had massive gatherings at a Chucky Cheese type place or a baseball training place, to name two that I attended. I’m not into competing with these, but on the other hand, I don’t want her to be always the one going to other parties.

Am I experiencing party envy? Not exactly. Wouldn’t want to have had to wrangle those big events. I think many of them invited the whole day care class, and that many children in one place under my responsibility, even with other parents there, would have made me verklempt.

I had heard this rule long ago: one should have for little child the number of children numbering their age plus one. So Lydia will have six friends at her next birthday at our house. This is a function too of the fact that her best friends don’t even go to to her daycare any more. Indeed, she had a [dreaded term] play date with two of them just this past Sunday.

Good thing she doesn’t read my blog; I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise. Meanwhile, happy four and a half, Lydia.


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